Jul 9, 2014 — by: Mark Reschke
Categories: iPhone, AT&T, Carriers

AT&T Mobile Share Family Plan

AT&T’s heavily promoted Mobile Share Value plan has been a huge success for AT&T Wireless. The program stopped the bleeding of customers migrating to aggressive campaigns from the “un-carrier” T-Mobile, while at the same time targeted higher priced Verizon plans.

In response to AT&T’s aggressive pricing, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile rapidly responded. Verizon has aggressively re-priced family plans, while the “un-carrier” T-Mobile continues to shake the ground of AT&T and Verizon by pushing data caps towards the realm of unlimited.

The AT&T Mobile Share Family Plan initially comes in as a strong cost savings for many subscribers, but come this Fall when the new iPhone arrives, the fine print may become a deal breaker for many customers. Millions of AT&T Wireless customers who have switched to the plan with their existing iPhones are not likely to upgrade. In fact, many iPhone 4S and 5 customers may choose to go well beyond their traditional two-year iPhone upgrade path, or switch carriers if they can.

The hook that is getting customers onboard? Initial pricing. It is saving many families with four or more lines at least $100 per month, but it may prove only temporary for many. Consumers are still thinking of their plans in two-year upgrade cycles, but the Mobile Share Value plan does away with two-year upgrade cycles and puts customers into their Next program. It quickly becomes complicated (something carriers seem to love), but if a family of four is paying $160 for iPhones of any age, once they go to upgrade to the new iPhone this fall, the $160 will quickly balloon roughly $25 per line for every iPhone upgraded, regardless of its age. Even if a customer is upgrading a four year old iPhone 4, which is no long being subsidized, AT&T will raise the $160 a month plan roughly $25 a month.

AT&T has cleverly moved out of the subsidy game whether its customers realize it or not. The new iPhone Air is likely to arrive in September, and when it does millions of AT&T customers are going to be very upset that adding new iPhones to their Mobile Share Value plan is going to cost them a lot more.

If typically aggressive T-Mobile chooses to take advantage of AT&T’s pricing schemes, it may find a treasure trove of unhappy AT&T customers willing to port large numbers of family plans to their newly minted nationwide LTE network. If AT&T has their way, it will not be easy for other carriers to buy customers out of the Mobile Share Value plan. There is likely to be a wake of upset AT&T customers, forced to hold onto their existing and aging iPhones. But AT&T Wireless will be fine with iPhone customers unable to upgrade, as the company will simply continue to watch millions of iPhone 5 and 5s subsidies run out, pocketing the difference until its customers are finally willing to pay more – or fine a way to leave.

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6 Comments

  1. Frank ~ Sep. 13, 2014 @ 11:44 am

    This is exactly right! AT&T as well as the rest of the providers will be increasing your monthly bill by at least $25 when you decide to renew your contract and get your shiny new iphone 6 that we all have been waiting for. What a joke! They thought they were slick when they introduced their new "Next" plan. Another scam. They should call it the "sucker" plan. Pay close to $30 per month to basically rent a phone. Ok, so you don't want to rent our phone? No problem we'll just take away the previously monthly discount we gave you so now you pay $25 per month extra. We wonder why this country is so broke... We're drowning in monthly bills. No one cares. If you want to do something, call your provider and complain... Complain until your sick of hearing yourself complain. I just hung up with AT&T and told them how I feel. I let them know that I'm upset about this!! We are at their mercy... I just recently got my bill down to an acceptable monthly cost per month and now it goes up again. I thought the reason they give us a discount on the price was to renew our contracts? Not anymore... #
  2. Ronen ~ Sep. 14, 2014 @ 7:43 am

    I am on the Shared Value Plan already and when going through the AT&T online upgrade process I sure see that I will lose the $25 discount if I go with a 2-year contract. If I look at a 2 year window the cost of a new iPhone 6 64GB for example will be: $299 + $40 (upgrade fee) + 24 * 25$ (the discount I lose) = $939 + $299*9.25% tax = $966 If I go with the Next 12/18 program then the $25 discount is not removed. Again looking at the cost for the next 2 years it will be: 24 * 31.25 = $750 + $750*9.25% tax = $819 According to the plan after 2 years the device is mine. I don't have to upgrade after 12 or 18 months if I don't want to. So it seems that going with Next saves me money compared to going with a contract. This seems strange. Where is the contract subsidy? What am I missing? #
  3. Brian ~ Sep. 18, 2014 @ 9:38 am

    I'm sure John Legere would like to give Randall Stephenson a big hug right now! I'm going to return the i6 I just ordered and move my family plan over to T-Mobile. AT&T's clever plan will undoubtedly backfire on them. #
  4. SFitz ~ Sep. 25, 2014 @ 10:08 am

    ATT offers Wireless service–NOT phones. Who are they to force you to pay $750 for a phone, AND then PENALIZE you $25 per month for two years ($600 more) for paying CASH to ANY seller of i Phones (Apple, Walmart, Best Buy etc) who charge $299-399 for the 6/6 Plus?! I’ve been a 20 year customer…& was never explained when offered the $160/10gig plan, that it was just a “set up plan” to force everyone to pay on credit (next plan") for a phone. in order to get the “discount” rate. It’s just WRONG. Furthermore, I understand ALL providers are doing this…& that is called PRICE FIXING–which violates the Sherman Anti-trust laws. They're all headed for a class action suit. Typical Big business GREED. So, I have held off buying... I’m curious to know what Apple charges retailers for the phones, if they can all sell them for $299-399.! #
  5. achilez ~ May. 28, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

    Ok. Lets be fair. We are mad that ATnT, which used to give us whatever plan if we just paid $200 down for a $1000 phone and signed a 2 year contract, is now making us actually pay for the phone in full while it gives us a better plan and with the data share, it makes it that much harder to move to a different provider. As a network service and a business I think they can do that and should be applauded for their brilliance. As a customer I am going to continue looking for the best deal though. As it stands I am going to get one of those Chinese phones that are selling like hot cakes(for about ($300) in the rest of the world were people actually have to pay $1000 for an Iphone. One Plus one or xiomi here I come. I think apple is the biggest looser in my case. #
  6. beth ~ Jun. 28, 2015 @ 10:41 pm

    On May 30, 2015 I got bait and switched buying iPhone 6 to a 6+ at Best Buys. I told the salesperson i wanted to kept same payments and plan. I had a 2 year plan before and kept the last phone for 4 years. I took the 2 year plan and didn't know about NEXT or the $15/$25 a month subsidy.... When I went to pay my bill, i found out that I now would have to pay much more than I expected to pay. It was past the 14 days return policy of Best Buys and AT&T when I became aware of the problem. Best Buys wouldn't do anything for me and AT&T wouldn't do anything to get me back to the amount and plan that I thought I was getting. One rep at At&T did gave me a one time $25. credit, another gave me a car charger, and the mgr of customer service gave credit for the remainder of this months bill and a device to assist the bad reception. No one had authority to override the arbitrary 14 day return policy or the $360. extra it is going to cost over 2 years ....... Years ago I paid $29.99, then it was $39 then $59 now approx. $90. and I paid $276. for the phone which was an OPEN BOX and a case which also has a problem at Best Buys but was charged the regular AT&T price of $399.99 minus $200. gift card minus trade in minus birthday gift (some gift). AT&T told me to go to Best Buy for a refund on the phone. No refund that is why they give the gift cards. Maybe they should call it what it is( some discount or gift). AT&T via the customer service by phone told me to go to a company store and they would take care of it. But they wouldn't and referred me back to telephone customer service. Since I realized the problems, I have spent the last week/too many hours trying to undo this horrible mess......... I got penalized for loyalty which seems to have no meaning or value to these companies. IF THERE IS A CLASS ACTION SUIT, COUNT ME IN. #

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